Insights on Today's Healthcare Consumer

Is Big Data Being Optimized in Health Care?

Posted by Brent Walker on Mon, Jul 14, 2014

big data healthcareAcross the country, hospitals and ACOs are collecting massive amounts of data every day, but few are using that data to its full potential.

Retailers like Amazon, on the other hand, are perfecting the art of leveraging big data and segmenting consumer populations to engage customers. What’s more, patients have changed; today, they are acting more like consumers– price shopping, sharing reviews online and expecting better customer experiences.

With health care consumers taking a more active role, maybe it’s time for health care providers to take a page from the retailer’s playbook.

Meeting the Amazon Standard for Communication

Since the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) introduced the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) Survey in 2006, hospitals have been under pressure to achieve high consumer satisfaction scores or risk reputational, and financial, consequences.

With nearly half of the questions related to communication, understanding how to communicate effectively with patients and their influencers is critical to improving patient satisfaction scores—especially when respondents have the opportunity to share their overall rating and recommendation of the subject hospital. 

In other words, it’s all about customer service. 

Of course, retailers have recognized the correlation between customer satisfaction and earnings for decades. Service design expert Sean Madden of Ziba consultancy has dived, at length, into the mythology of how Amazon wows its customers.

He attributes the retailer’s success to its ability to use big data to personalize each experience with the brand– even interactions with an unhappy customer.

Customers who need to return a product have their choice of contact methods– web form, email or phone. And once the interaction is started, customer service representatives are empowered by having all of the relevant customer data at their fingertips. This allows them to manage the experience without asking frustratingly repetitive questions.

Of course, hospitals are starting at a disadvantage because being in a hospital tends to be– by its very nature– associated with a bad experience. Consumers may be excited to order a Kindle, but they probably don’t look forward to medical tests or hospital admissions.

Patients and their loved ones are under stress and experiencing a range of negative emotions, particularly if it is an unexpected illness that has caused the hospitalization. That’s why leveraging meaningful big data is crucial to hospitals’ success.

Big data offers another advantage here as well.

As Madden points out with Amazon, “Not only does smart data empower you to treat customers as individuals, it does so without invoking many of the fixed expenses associated with improved service.”

Your doctors, nurses and other hospital staff already know how to have friendly conversations—you need to leverage that skill to implement big data effectively.

Segmenting Consumer Populations to Improve Patient Experiences

Segmenting consumer populations starts with breaking down patients into smaller groups that share attitudes, behaviors or needs.

Surface-level analysis tends to organize patients into groups based on shared demographics, socioeconomic status or, in health care, disease conditions. While this is the most superficial level of analysis, it can help hospitals and ACOs identify the most appropriate mode of communication based on age, for example, for medication reminders. While printed instructions with follow-up phone calls may be most appropriate for the ‘Greatest Generation’ audience age 65 and older, ‘Boomers’ and ‘Gen-Xers’ may respond better to email reminders and ‘Millennials’ to text messages.

By using the best modes of communication with each market, hospitals and ACOs improve their ability to make meaningful connections with individuals, generating higher levels of satisfaction and better patient outcomes.

At the deep end of the analysis spectrum, hospitals can leverage psychographic segmentation– grouping people by shared values, emotions, personalities, interests and more– to truly personalize patient experiences.

Psychographic segmentation allows you to tailor communications that appeal to the individual’s priorities and motivations, resonating much more effectively. 

c2b solutions’ research has also found there are significant differences among psychographic segments in media and communication vehicle preferences.   Using the generational example from above, certain psychographic segments within the Millennials may actually prefer printed instructions, even if the generation as a whole leans toward text messages.

While hospitals cannot easily overcome the fact that patients view hospitalization as a negative event, loyalty is forged in times of crisis.  Hospitals can use this data to ensure that patients leave the hospital with a positive impression and renewed loyalty to the hospital. 

To learn more about segmenting consumer markets to increase patient satisfaction, boost consumer loyalty and positively impact patient outcomes, contact c2b solutions today.

 

Free Whitepaper: Psychographic Segmentation  and the Healthcare Consumer: Insights for the Healthcare Industry

 

 

Brent Walker

Written by: Brent Walker

As Chief Marketing Officer, Brent's primary responsibilities include leading marketing strategy and execution for c2b solutions, development of c2b solutions' proprietary consumer segmentation model and insights products, research on healthcare consumers’ motivations and behaviors, and providing marketing guidance to c2b solutions clients.

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